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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Softball splits weekend finale in Western Kentucky

Stewart strikes out 9 Flyers in morning victory
Wyatt Richardson
NIU senior infielder Caitlyn Shumaker throws the ball during the Huskies’ 11-2 loss to Western Kentucky University in five innings Sunday at the WKU Softball Complex in Bowling Green, Kentucky. NIU’s defeat sent the Huskies home with a 1-3 record at the Hilltopper Spring Fling. (Courtesy of Wyatt Richardson)

NIU softball split its second and final day of action at the Hilltopper Spring Fling on Sunday to finish its third weekend out of 2024 with a 1-3 record.

The Huskies (4-10) defeated the University of Dayton (7-5) before falling to Western Kentucky University (13-6-1) in a five-inning thumping at the WKU Softball Complex in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

NIU softball head coach Christina Sutcliffe described Sunday’s performance as “a tale of two teams.”

“The first game, we did a really good job of hanging in there and doing just enough,” Sutcliffe said. “And then I don’t know if we ran out of gas or just were outmatched, but definitely didn’t put our best effort in the second game, for sure.”


The Huskies kicked off the final day of the Hilltopper Spring Fling with a 2-1 win over Dayton. Sophomore pitcher/utility Danielle “Dee Dee” Stewart pitched a complete game, allowing just three hits and a run while striking out nine batters, tying her career high in strikeouts.

“I had tight spin and was trusting my (defense) and just trying to attack each batter,” Stewart said.

After a fruitless first inning from both sides, Dayton scored the game’s first run in the second inning. Flyer junior infielder Chloe Wong popped up to right field, which allowed junior infielder Maddie Kapsimalis to cross home.

NIU climbed even with Dayton in the third inning with sophomore outfielder Fiona Crane’s score on a passed ball. Senior catcher/outfielder Ellis Erickson accounted for the go-ahead score with a home run in the fourth inning. The NIU defense held strong for the final three frames to dispatch the Flyers.

GAME 2: WKU 11, NIU 2 (5 inn.)

In the afternoon game, junior pitcher Madison Carlson started in the circle for the Huskies. The Rock Valley College transfer pitched 3.1 innings while giving eight hits and six runs.

NIU opened the scoring with a Stewart RBI single in the top of the first inning, making middle infielder/outfielder Jenna Turner the first Huskie to reach home in the contest.

From there, the Hilltoppers took over the contest and remained the frontrunner throughout.

WKU used a two-run home run by fifth-year infielder Taylor Sanders to take the lead. Freshman infielder Morgan Sharpe belted a sacrifice fly to score another Hilltopper and push NIU to a 3-1 deficit by the end of the second inning.

The Hilltoppers erupted in the fourth inning with six runs. During the frame, senior pitcher Claire Norred entered the game in relief of Carlson.

The Huskies severed WKU’s scoring streak in the top of the fifth inning with junior third baseman/first baseman Madison Mathews’ first home run of the season. Mathews homered her first swing of the side into center field to trim NIU’s deficit to 9-2.

WKU redshirt junior catcher/utility Cheyanne Sales fired back with a 2-RBI double to send freshman outfielder Kendle White and Sharpe home. The scores granted Western Kentucky the nine-run advantage needed to end the contest in five innings.

“(It was) just us not executing when we had our opportunities with runners on,” Stewart said. “We got beat by bunts a lot yesterday (Saturday), and I think we were still getting beat by those today, and just not capitalizing in the right moments.”


The Huskies will see their next action at the Montana Softball Classic in Missoula, Montana, where they will face the University of Montana and the College of the Holy Cross.

NIU will begin its weekend against Holy Cross at 11 a.m. CT Friday. Live statistics will be available on StatBroadcast.

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